Since 2015, China’s apparel manufacturing industry has undergone a profound transition. The rising labor costs have shifted the sector towards a less labor-intensive and highly automated direction. Geographically, many apparel enterprises have relocated to lower-labor cost labor regions, such as Western and Middle China. Technologically, apparel enterprises upped their research and development spending. In 2020, more than 26,000 R&D projects were carried out in the textile and clothing sector in China. Nevertheless, an increasing number of apparel enterprises exited the market during the industrial upgrade and structural transformation.
Apart from manufacturing, China’s apparel export industry also faced significant challenges resulting from recent international trade disputes and increasing production costs. China’s clothing export value and global share have continuously dropped between 2014 and 2020. In the meantime, several rising apparel manufacturing counties in Southeast Asia started to threaten China’s leading position.
Nevertheless, China’s garment exports saw an upsurge amid the Coronavirus pandemic in 2021. In contrast to many countries that shut down clothing manufacturing during lockdowns, Chinese clothes makers benefited from the country’s effective pandemic control.
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Research expert covering e-commerce and FMCG in Greater China